Posted by Ian
"Are we facing a summer of discontent?" a BBC news presenter wondered, earlier this morning.
NOOOOO! If there’s one journalistic cliche above all else that gets me riled, it’s that one. Every single time there’s industrial action in this country, or some people go on strike, no matter how localised or isolated, this particular hoary old lazy verbal chestnut is dusted down for another outing.
It’s partisan. It’s disingenuous. It’s also very very bad reporting. In fact, there’s a whole school of wayward and biased language that seems to be deployed by the press whenever there’s an industrial dispute in the UK.
The people involved in the strike are always making ‘demands’. They never ‘ask’ or ‘campaign’ for something. Stoppages are never ‘discussed’ or ‘planned’, they are always ‘threatened’. Heads of trade unions are called ‘bosses’ or ‘barons’, to make them sound corrupt and unaccountable. The consequences of their actions bring ‘chaos’ and ‘misery’ – without any consideration given to the chaos and misery in the lives of the strikers that has driven them to take action in the first place. And everybody else ‘suffers’ from a strike, regardless of public sympathy or differing shades of opinion.
In short the entire media establishment has an in-built bias against people taking industrial action, using loaded language and judgmental terms that are on the side of business and employers and against workers and employees.
You might think this is how it should be. You might say: tell me something I don’t know. Alternatively you might want to check out the work of the Glasgow University Media Group, who have been exploring and documenting this issue since 1976.